Refugees on Lesbos
In september 2015 I decided to go to the Greek island Lesbos for a week to help the refugees who come from Turkey in small rubber boats.
I had collected a lot of things, from 2 laptops, napkins to sun oil, band air, candy for the children, tarpaulins etc. etc., but I could only bring 23 kg. in the plane. But I had also been given a lot of huge plastic bags from Silvan, so I packed 15 extra of these bags and brought them to the airport, where I asked other passengers if they would take a bag for me, and in this way I brought all my stuff to Lesbos, where it made great joy.
The refugees come from Turkey, where they have bought a “ticket” from human traffickers on an inflatable boat in a terrible condition together with sometimes almost 75 other passengers. In Turkey they have bought life jackets which are completely useless and will not save them if the boat sinks. There is an outboard engine on the boat which often sets out after a kilometer or less because there is no more gasoline, so the refugees can only sail with the current.
Lesbos is a very beautiful island, but I was so busy so I took only a few pictures
Refugees spending the night at the road outside of Molyvos, hoping to get at a bus to Mytilini in the morning
This is where the refugees land after the journey from Turkey, 5-700 meters west of Skala Sikamineas, see the map above.
After the refugees have landed they walk 5-700 meters on a small road along the coast to the little town Skala Sikimineas – inhabitants about 200 – and from there they must climb the hill, about 4 km. up to what we called “the bus station”. It was a narrow paved road, very steep and about 4 km. long, and the temperature was 35-40° C, so everyone was extremely thirsty.
I had rented a small car which I used to drive shuttle service, down the hill, fill the car up with mpstly single mothers and their children and drive them up the hill to the bus station.
When I got up in the morning I drove to a small shop in the center of Molyvos where I filled the trunk with drinking water, and the first arab word I learned was for water (I cannot remember it anymore) which they all shouted after me and my little car.
Here are some pictures from the bus station. A French organization had collected money to lease busses that transported the refugees from the bus station to the camp in Mytilini, about 45 km. away. At a time, the rumours said, that it was forbidden to transport the refugees to the camp, but we later found out that was not true. But the rumour still claimed that it was forbidden for private persons to transport refugees, but most of we volunteers did it anyway.
The refugees was sleeping on the whole road, so I had to wake some uf them up and evening when I needed to go to Molyvos to fetch extra blankets.
I remember one of them who had 3 small children. I offered him the last blanket I had, but he said no thank you, I have enough. He had only enough for the children, not for himself and his wife, but he guessed that others needed them more than he did.
I was very happy that it became dark early, for I often experienced situations like this, where I had to hide my face as I was crying.
This is the harbour in the main city Mytilini, where some of the refugees are allowed to take the ferry to Piraeus at the mainland
I cannot remember the name of the organisation that runs the warehouse here, but it is Danish, and all the goods were collected in Denmark
Originally, I had booked only one week, but when the the journey home became close, I asked one of the tour guides if I could stay another week. She would find out and let me know. When I came home to my hotel room late the last night, there was a note on my door saying that I could stay a week more. I did not know what to do. I really wanted to stay longer, but I was simply so tired, both physically and especially mentally, so I had to give up – even though I felt miserable about it.
But I do not think I would have survived a week more down there.